GMA Network bucks bill allowing commercial ads in PTV 4
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - December 17, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Publicly-listed GMA Network Inc. is strongly opposing a bill filed at the Senate seeking to revive the state-owned People’s Television Network Inc. (PTV) by allowing it to compete with private television companies for advertising and commercial interests.

GMA president and chief executive officer Felipe L. Gozon said in an interview with reporters that the proposed bill would be unfair to private-run broadcasting firms as taxpayers’ money including the taxes paid by corporations would be used to revive the operations of the cash-strapped TV station.

Gozon said the Senate Bill 3316 that would serve as substitute to Senate Bill 2985 and 3070 amending Republic Act 7306 or the Charter of PTV is “very, very unfair” as the TV station is owned by the government.

“The plan to commercialize is very, very unfair as PTV 4 is a government owned station,” he lamented.

The bill proposes to revitalize the government-owned PTV by infusing the struggling government station with additional capitalization and allowing it to engage in more diverse programming.

As proposed, PTV would receive P5 billion in capital infusion from the national government consisting of P2 billion from the proceeds of the sale of Radio Philippines Network (RPN 9) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC 13) and P2 billion from the incremental increases of the Spectrum User’s Fee (SUF) of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

The remaining P1 billion would come from the General Appropriations Act.

The bill proposes that public funds would be earmarked from the national budget to enable PTV to buy equipment, build infrastructure, produce programs, purchase content, hire personnel and recruit creative staff for its operations.

To sustain its operations, PTV would also be permitted to generate revenue by selling airtime and commercial ads.

“It would be as if GMA is financially supporting its competitor through taxes, which the company diligently pays for. If PTV wishes to sell airtime, the government-owned station must give up the subsidy it receives in order to level the playing field,” Gozon said.

In a letter to the Senate committee on public information and mass media chaired by Sen. Gregorio Honasan, GMA vice president for legal affairs Ma. Luz Delfin said the provisions of the bill that would commercialize PTV are not in harmony with its noble intention.

Delfin said the move would promote the existence of unfair market conditions to the disadvantage of commercial broadcasters and would affect the programming options of PTV to the detriment of public service.

“We are concerned that the proposed revenue-making capabilities of the government station would unduly and unfairly compete with private business. Commercial advertisement is the lifeblood of private broadcasting stations,” she said.

She explained that the current trend shows a shift in the advertising budgets of corporate sponsors as advertisers become more cautious about the state of the global economy.

She added that the debt crisis in Europe has in fact resulted in a reduction in the ad spending of multinational companies which are operating in the Philippines. Aside from the decline in the ad spend of corporate sponsors, there is an increase in competition emerging from other advertising platforms like the Internet.




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